The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health, is determining whether the levels of mercury in mountain snakes can be safely absorbed. If so, Snakes will soon end up on restaurant menus and dinner tables across the state.
“This is the beginning of the mercury study. We are currently in the tissue collection phase of the project, and Govt has pushed our timeline back a bit,” Wildlife Commission spokeswoman Susan Neil told CNN.
“The plan is that most of these models must have come from mountain snakes caught by our contractor project.”
The Contractor Project – Python Removal Project – is led by the Commission and the South Florida Water Management District, which funds new mercury testing.
So far, more than 6000 mountain snakes have been removed from Everlets by the program.
“The purpose of this study is to better inform and share with the public the consumption advice for Burmese pythons in South Florida,” Ms Neal said, hoping that Floridians will soon be able to eat pythons to help manage their population.
“Mercury is a naturally occurring element in the environment that is abundant in Everglades,” Python Elimination Project Manager Mike Kirkland told CNN.
“Bioaccumulators and mountain snakes in the Mercury environment will unfortunately find high levels of mercury on the surface of the food chain that sustains themselves.”
“We expect the results to encourage the public from consuming pythons, but if we can determine if they are safe to eat, it will be very helpful in controlling their population,” he said.
Nothing like some good ol ‘Python jerky
Donna Khalil, one of the project’s Python hunters, says mountain snakes are safe to eat when they’re really tasty.
According to Kirkland, the first female hunter in the python eradication program, Ms. Kall, she has so far captured 473 pythons and killed them mercilessly. When catching small ones about two meters long, he uses a mercury test kit purchased online to make sure they are safe to eat.
She turns their white meat into food.
First, he uses a pressure cooker to soften and soften the meat.
Then, he fry in pasta sauce, chili or stir.
She also likes to turn snakes into jerks.
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“It’s great when you cook it right,” Ms Khalil told CNN.
“It’s a fantastic way to get more people involved in helping us remove mountain snakes from the environment. It would be a good thing for people to hunt and eat them, but we need to make sure they are safe first.”
Ms. Kalil spent her childhood having fun catching snakes. Despite his love for mountain snakes, which he calls “wonderful creatures,” he emphasizes the danger they pose to Florida’s wildlife and the severe damage they have already done to its ecosystem.
Large mountain snakes can eat even large prey, including humans.
“We have a serious python problem, which started when irresponsible pet owners released them into the wild, and they have eaten all the native mammals in Evereglets National Park,” Ms Khalil said.
“There are 2 to 3 percent left in rabbits and raccoons and possessions, so when I see a rabbit, I’m happy jumping now. None of them because there are mountain snakes.”